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Montini Brings Fresh New Perspective to Rite Aid’s Category Management Team

With a diverse retail background that includes working for Rite Aid in 2004, then as a Rite Aid supplier for the past several years, Senior Vice President of Category Management Tony Montini has experienced retail marketing and merchandising from nearly every angle. His experience and intimate knowledge of the company gives him a unique insight into Rite Aid’s opportunities and challenges.

“Clearly our number one priority is to increase our top line sales. The challenge comes in driving more top line sales in each category while adding more profit to the bottom line,” says Montini.

Offering more value to Rite Aid shoppers continues to be a strong focus for the category management team, adds Montini. “We are always looking for more value opportunities for our consumers. We want to offer them alternatives. A great example of this is our new Rite Aid Brand Simplify product line. This is an excellent, quality product that is value driven. For consumers looking purely for value, we’ll be able to accommodate them with our own brand.”

Promotional offerings will also be value driven, approaching each from the perspective of the consumer. How is the presentation perceived by the consumer? Does it make sense to the consumer? And is it easily understood by the consumer? In addition, Montini says that all off-shelf promotions will now require a value attachment, for example a Temporary Price Reduction (TPR), a bonus size, a twin pack or a meaningful new item launch.

Rite Aid’s strategy for seasonal programs is another area of focus for Montini and his team. “We want to enhance the overall seasonal impact of our business by adding more excitement and more fun. It should have an aspect of surprise and delight. And we’ll be aggressively looking for new opportunities in the marketplace. We are going to be very strategic in what we are buying and how we allocate seasonal products to our stores. This will help us maximize sell through and improve customer satisfaction.”

One of the most exciting initiatives, not only for Montini’s team but for the entire company, is the launch ofwellness+, Rite Aid’s new customer loyalty program. “With this program, we will leap frog all of our competition in terms of a true loyalty program that offers every day ongoing savings to our loyal customers,” says Montini.

He says Rite Aid is giving its customers real savings and real value. With wellness+, customers accrue points. When they reach a threshold, they get a discount every day through the remainder of the year.

Montini adds that Rite Aid’s suppliers are extremely important in the success of this new loyalty program, in terms of supporting, as well as formulating the creativity around the offerings to customers.

Cultivating strong relationships with suppliers is something that Montini says is important in every aspect of the business. “As we work together growing our business, our suppliers must also grow their top-line sales and increase their profitability. It’s a mutual relationship. We will be looking for new opportunities and take advantage of them.”

Before coming to Rite Aid in February, Montini held the position of Executive Vice President and COO of Marc USA, a Rite Aid supplier for over 10 years. At this year’s Supplier Advisory Board meeting in April, instead of participating as a member of the board, he represented Rite Aid’s leadership team and spearheaded the effort to make organizational changes that he says will allow the board to move forward on projects and improve business processes much faster.

“Instead of working on four projects for an extended period of time, we are going to focus on less projects with greater involvement by more members, which will help us to make progress faster. Speed Wins!” exclaims Montini, a catch-phrase that quickly caught on during the bi-annual meeting.

Exciting initiatives and excellent supplier partnerships are just part of the equation for success in the months ahead, says Montini. A talented category management team creates the winning combination. “We have a really great team and we need to take advantage of that by utilizing their talents to come up with creative solutions that will differentiate ourselves from competition. We need to intelligently approach our business, look for key opportunities, expand on those opportunities, and we have the team to do that.”